Following the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, NFL Draft season has fallen on the black and gold faithful. After such a horrible loss on the AFC’s biggest stage, some needs might seem glaring, but are actually just a product of scheme and inexperience.
However, I think everyone can agree if you are listing the Steelers’ glaring needs heading into the 2017 NFL season, you’d be hard pressed to convince me an outside linebacker won’t be at the top of the list.
James Harrison is a Steelers legend, and says he isn’t done playing the game yet, but he can’t play forever. Thankfully, second year player Bud Dupree has shown some serious signs of development, and possibly someone who could anchor the left side of the defense for years to come. However, the Jarvis Jones swing-and-miss continues to haunt the Steelers defense.
With that said, it shouldn’t shock anyone the Steelers are slated to draft another linebacker in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In SB Nation’s latest mock draft by Dan Kadar, he has the Steelers looking at a pass rusher from UCLA named Takkarist McKinley.
See what Kadar had to say about the mock selection:
30. Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
Jarvis Jones just isn’t working for Pittsburgh, and James Harrison has to retire at some point. Fortunately for Pittsburgh there is an excess of 3-4 outside linebacker prospects in this year’s draft. McKinley is a player who could slot in opposite a rapidly improving Bud Dupree.
For those who follow the upcoming class in the Draft, they know just how deep this outside linebacker/EDGE rusher class is, which is good news for the Steelers. However, McKinley is far from a polished product.
Relentless worker bee on the field. Refuses to give offensive tackles a snap to catch their breath. Not a content player and is always charging towards the ball. Plus closing burst to sideline enables contain. Makes as many effort plays as anyone in the Pac 12. Unusually adept at bouncing off of blocks and maintaining play focus. Good stop/start change of direction talent. Long strides eat up ground in space. Scouts expect a strong forty time at combine. Combines speed with long arms for increased tackle radius. Became a playmaker. Saw 36 percent of his tackles come within two yards or less of line of scrimmage while sack total spiked considerably. Spins out of wash down blocks to work back towards the play. Consistently stuffs cut attempts. Raw, but pass rush flashes some speed to power. Pass rush counters fueled by lateral agility and effort.
Hand skill and overall usage is completely uncultivated and impedes pass rush potential. Lacks slaps, swipes and a serviceable rip move to grease the edge as a rusher. Punch has very little force. Needs to get hands and feet need in unison. Long arms are irrelevant at times due to slow punch. Lacks bend around the edge. Upright pass rush allows tackles to flatten him up and over the rush arc with just an average punch. Movements are a little bit stiff. Redirected too easily. Needs to continue to add play strength. Success predicated on effort over rush talent and functional power. Needs to combine all three elements to his game.